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Friday, March 23, 2018

Comic Cuts - 23 March 2018

The last of the essays for volume 3 of Forgotten Authors was finished on Monday evening, and I'm now in the process of re-reading and re-writing the essays that will make up the contents of the book. The first drafts total around 67,000 words and I'm not expecting that to grow by too much.

The rewrites can even bring the word count down in places, removing repetition and unnecessary details. It's not unknown for me to include everything including the kitchen sink, but do we really need to know who manufactured the taps? At the same time, there may be some revision needed for clarity, but it's rare that I need to do wholesale revision, thankfully.

There's still some way to go. I'm still rewriting – I'm about half-way through at the time of writing – after which I'll be able to create a single master document that will become both the print book and e-book versions of the finished volume. Once all the footnotes are sorted out (they become end-notes in the e-book version), I still have to do a bit of design on the print version, compile and index and put together a cover. So, the book is still a couple of weeks away from publication. Early April, I reckon.

Some time after that, the long-time-coming Don Lawrence book will be published by Book Palace as an Illustrators Special. This was finished and ready to go a couple of years ago but the whole thing went belly-up when the pound collapsed following the Brexit vote. Books printed in China (high quality, relatively cheap) suddenly cost 10% more overnight because they are paid for in dollars, not sterling. While the pound has recovered slightly, it's still down on pre-Brexit exchange rates.

So I've had it sitting on my computer for eighteen months and eventually Geoff West suggested putting it out as part of his Illustrators magazine. So that's what we're doing. It's due in Spring... and the Spring Equinox was on Tuesday, so it could be out any time now. More likely in the next month or two.

The book is a bit of a scrapbook gathering up all of Don Lawrence's educational and children's illustrations from Ranger, Bible Story, Look and Learn, Speed & Power and Once Upon a Time. There's some quite scarce material included, including Herod the Great, The Range Rider, Pinocchio, Jason and the Golden Fleece, etc. as well as all of his one-off illustrations. I'll try to confirm the release date and dig out a few examples of what's included for next week.

We went to see Richard Herring on Wednesday. This is one of only a handful of gigs we've been to this year – last month we saw Lucy Porter and Ellie Taylor; this month it's Richard Herring and Jon Robins.

I've seen Herring on his last eight tours and enjoyed most of his output over the same period, which has included hundreds of podcasts (RHLSTP... and I was there for RHEFP, AIOTM and various others). A lot of his output is crowd funded and, via Go Faster Stripe, you can buy books and DVDs that will keep all these various projects going while tours and commercial work (like the delightful Radio 4 comedy Relativity) pays his bills. GFS also have plenty of other worthwhile products from other comedians and they deserve your support.

As for the gig, Herring celebrated turning fifty in the show, comparing his current life with the life of his younger, forty-year-old self when he was a directionless, sexually active and deeply happy man about town; he's swapped that for the life of a married man with a wife, two children and a dog. You can see his progress through the titles of his shows, from the early angry exclamation (Christ on a Bike, Talking Cock) to the far cheerier shows of later years (Happy Now, The Best).

Time, too, for the annual photo.

Adding to the catalogue of people I knew who have recently died, I have to mention John Stewart, who lived locally to us. I first met John at the Wivenhoe Memories Exhibition, which he hosted every year beginning in the 1980s. We first visited the exhibition in 2011 and it was there that I discovered Harry "Iron Mask" Bensley for the first time. John had gathered together a small collection of postcards from Bensley's "Walk Around the World" which I was able to use as illustrations in the Iron Mask book. John also unearthed a photo of Bensley which appeared in the book.

Random scans this week celebrate George H. Teed, who is one of the authors who appears in the new Forgotten Authors volume. He is probably my favourite Sexton Blake author and had an incredible career as a world traveller and author. He set his stories around the globe and when he described something, you could be pretty sure it was something he had seen. 

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